William C. Hopson

Pg. 328 - William C. Hopson. To relatively few men it is granted to be a success in business even from their first ventures in their youth, but William C. Hopson, proprietor of the manufacturing company which bears his name, located in Grand Rapids, is one of those few men; his name to business men in this city is synonymous with success and sterling integrity. He was born in Toledo, Ohio, October 21,1856, a son of William and Mary J. (Lee) Hopson, both of whom were born in Ireland of English parentage. John Lee, the maternal grandfather of our subject, went to Ireland in the employ of the English government as a locksmith and after his death his two daughters came to Canada and then to Detroit, where Mary J. Lee married William Hopson after the death of her sister. William Hopson, the father of our subject, came to the United States with his parents. When he became of age, he, like his father before him, took up the trade of blacksmith. He moved to Toledo in 1855 and after a short sojourn there, went back to Michigan working in various cities. He finally settled in Ypsilanti where he remained until the time of his death in 1868 at the age of forty-five years. His widow died at the age of fifty-eight years. He was highly skilled in his trade and was an expert in high grade carriage trimming and similar work. William C. Hopson went to work when he was ten years of age, and three years later he came to Grand Rapids with his mother in 1870. A short time after his arrival in Grand Rapids, he considered returning to his former home but was persuaded to remain by friends. Knowing that he must get work of some kind, he borrowed money from his mother and erected a small building, five feet by eight, on Monroe street where he began a candy business. This building was on the site of the old National Hotel, now the Morton House, and later he moved to the Powers Arcade, finally locating at the west end of the Bridge street bridge. From the first his venture was a success, his first day’s sale amounting to one hundred dollars, the day, the Fourth of July, having been an excellent one in the candy trade. His success in this business continued unabated, and during this time he also acted as assistant circulator of the Daily Morning Times. At the age of seventeen, he gave up his schooling to enter the employ of the Schriver-Weatherly Company with which he continued eight years. In 1881 he decided to go into business for himself, beginning in a small way the manufacture of galvanized iron and tin products and metal cornices. This enterprise was first located at 16 Huron street, but in 1885 was moved to No. 9 Pearl street, and in 1890 to the corner of Louis and Campau streets. His business enjoyed a steady and healthy growth under his direction, developing to such an extent that in 1895, after fifteen years of successful operation, he went into the wholesale end of the business, gradually discontinuing the outside contract work he had continued so long. The expansion of his business forced him to erect a four story building, sixty-six by one hundred feet , at 25-27-29 Campau street, which he din in 1898. After two years the building burned down, and though the blow was a severe one coming at such a time, he rebuilt immediately, and continued the operation of the building there until 1911. At that time he built his present plant at 216-18-20 Ellsworth avenue, a five-story structure, sixty-six by one hundred and forty feet in size. His plant manufactures metal ceilings, galvanized iron cornices and other similar products. The ceaseless effort which Mr. Hopson has put into the management and development of his business, the sterling integrity that he has exercised in all his business dealings, have worked have worked for the prosperity which he has won. His achievement in building up one of the strongest and largest enterprises of its kind in the state has won him recognition among his business associates as one of the able executives in the city. In 1920 he incorporated the business, and at that time the bigness of character was never more evident, for he made the concern a co-operative one in which the older employees share. It was the act of a far-sighted and a just man, and he holds the love and respect of all his employees. On September 19, 1889, he married Frankie McHydorn, and to this union were born two children, William Earl and Lucille I., who is now Mrs. Francis T. Russell, of Grand Rapids. Mr. Hopson is a Mason, a member f the Association of Commerce, the Builders’ Exchange and the Highland Golf Club. He is a trustee of the Fountain Street Baptist Church, is chairman of the property committee of that church, and was a member of the building committee when the new church was erected. He built his present home in the year 1918 at 520 Madison avenue.

Transcriber: John Miller
Created: 4 March 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/hopsonwc.html